Our Impact

We’re making it easier for governments to responsibly adopt AI technology

The impact.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in partnership with the UK government, has developed guidelines for more ethical and efficient government procurement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Now, governments across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East will be piloting these guidelines to improve their AI procurement processes.

Our guidelines not only serve as a handy reference tool for governments looking to adopt AI technology, but also set baseline standards for effective, responsible public procurement and deployment of AI – standards that can be eventually adopted by industries.

By bringing together more than 100 government, industry, academic and civil society experts to build and continuously improve these guidelines, we’re helping governments around the world streamline their AI procurement processes and access this powerful technology to better serve the public.

What's the challenge?

If implemented properly, AI could deliver an additional $939 billion in value across the public sectors of 16 major developed economies by 2035.

Artificial intelligence can transform government services, from preventing traffic congestion and providing speedy customer service to predicting crime and infrastructure failure. If implemented properly, AI could deliver an additional $939 billion in value across the public sectors of 16 major developed economies by 2035.

Yet, despite AI’s promising benefits, governments have been slow to adopt the technology and have struggled to keep up with its latest innovations. They may not have the required expertise to make informed buying decisions for AI-powered solutions, or may fear risking a public backlash if the technology is not deployed responsibly. This often leads to governments delaying procurement decisions or reducing perceived risk by purchasing AI solutions from large and well-known suppliers, which may not always be the best choice. Unfortunately, this also means that ethical AI providers do not have a competitive advantage.

Our approach.

In late 2018, we teamed up with the UK government to develop transparent guidelines that would help governments make informed procurement decisions and allow both established and new AI providers to compete on a level playing field for government contracts. These guidelines, which provide public officials with a detailed checklist of factors to consider when acquiring AI technology, have been recently updated to reflect input from more than 100 leading experts from government, business, academia and civil society. We will be releasing the updated guidelines at the Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters.

Example of a challenge-based procurement process mentioned in the guidelines

At the same time, we’ll be piloting these guidelines with governments across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East to test their real-world applicability in different regions. We’ll be incorporating insights from these pilots into an “implementation workbook” – a manual for governments wanting to apply the guidelines to their AI procurement process. The workbook, along with case studies and a third edition of the updated guidelines, will be shared at our inaugural Global Technology Governance Summit in San Francisco in April 2020.

These guidelines are meant to be a living document that will incorporate feedback from practitioners over time. While much of the feedback will come from the project’s community of subject matter experts and from pilots run by partner governments, we invite other stakeholders and the general public to provide feedback as well.

Our objective is to enable governments and international bodies to set the right policies, protocols and standards to facilitate effective, responsible and ethical use of AI by the public sector. The United Kingdom is expected to be the first to officially adopt these guidelines in early 2020, with hopefully many more governments to follow.

How can you get involved?

We would like to hear what you think about our AI procurement guidelines, which you can find here. You can provide your feedback by emailing us at ai@weforum.org.

We invite organizations that are interested in the future of AI and machine learning to get in touch with us via our platform page.

Join our mission to improve the state of the world.

We invite forward-thinking organizations to join with us in understanding and maximizing the social benefits of emerging technologies. Find out how you can become part of our mission to improve the state of the world.

Become a Partner or Member of the Forum

Already a Partner or Member of the World Economic Forum?

Find out more about this initiative and see how you can join this ongoing global effort to improve AI procurement.

Learn more on TopLink

Learn more about our Platform for Shaping the Future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

If you’re worried about the future of AI, or just curious about what AI can do for us, we are here to help. See what our Platform is doing to accelerate the benefits and minimize the risks of AI and machine learning.

Learn more about this Platform